Our human bent tells us to withdraw physically, or dish up the silent treatment, or seek sweet revenge when someone hurts us. Praying for that individual’s forgiveness seldom enters our mind. But if we profess to be Jesus’ disciples, then we’re to follow His example.
Jesus was innocent of all wrongdoing yet He suffered ridicule and an excruciating death. As He hung on the cross, a crowd gathered to watch and soldiers gambled for His clothing. A lesser man might have spent His dying breath uttering curses over them, but Jesus prayed,
Jesus recognized that the crowd who cheered for His crucifixion and the soldiers who hammered spikes through His hands and feet were not His real enemies. The unseen forces of evil led by Satan himself were ultimately the ones bent on His destruction. Knowing this, Jesus was able to pray for those who mocked and crucified Him.
Consider this truth when someone’s hurt you deeply: “For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
Spend your emotional, mental, and spiritual energy fighting the real enemy—Satan. One battle strategy is to pray for the person who’s hurt you. Doing so is akin to donning protective armor against anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness.
Here’s a suggested prayer: “Holy Father, thank You for Christ’s example. He was able to do the hard thing—pray for the forgiveness of those who killed Him. I’m asking You for the strength to respond to my offender in the same way. Lord, I ask You to not hold this offense against him, but draw him to repentance. Grant him a clear understanding of who You are and of Your free gift of grace and forgiveness. Give him a heart that seeks after You. Give him the privilege of knowing You intimately and the joy that comes with walking in freedom from sin. I ask this on the basis of who You are—the God of truth and justice, the God who promises to be my Defender. In Jesus’ name, amen.”